Complaints of Bias Against Black Shoppers Now Spread to Macy’s

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 28:  Pedestrians are reflected in a Macy's window February 28, 2005 in New York City. Federated Department Stores Inc. is buying rival May Department Stores Co. for $11 billion in cash and stock in a deal that would enable them to compete against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as well as upscale retailers.  (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

Complaints of Bias Against Black Shoppers Now Spread to Macy’s

Complaints of racial discrimination by Black shoppers have now spread from Barneys to Macy's.

Published October 28, 2013

The controversy surrounding New York department stores and allegations of racial profiling have now spread to a second legendary establishment as two Black shoppers say they were unfairly targeted at Macy’s.

Rob Brown, an actor in New York City, sued Macy’s and the New York Police Department last week, saying he was detained illegally after purchasing a watch for his mother at the chain’s flagship store in Manhattan.

Now, a second shopper, Art Palmer, a fitness instructor from Brooklyn, held a press conference saying he had been subjected to an unfair search for stolen merchandise by store personnel and police.

On Sunday, a spokesman for Macy’s said that the company is in the process of reviewing Palmer’s complaint. The store said that Macy’s personnel were “not involved in Mr. Brown’s detention or questioning. This was an operation of the New York City Police Department.”

The allegations against Macy’s came shortly after two similar complaints by shoppers at Barneys. And the National Action Network, the civil rights group headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, is meeting with officials at Barneys this week.

Barneys is being sued by Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old African-American shopper who said he went to the store and purchased a $350 Ferragamo belt. Upon leaving the store, he was stopped by undercover police officers who said that there were concerns by store personnel about the purchase.

After that suit was filed, another Black shopper, Kayla Phillips, said she had a similar experience at Barney’s. Phillips, who is 21, told the New York Post that she purchased a $2,500 Céline handbag. Phillips is suing the New York Police Department for $5 million. A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said she would review the claim.

Kirsten John Foy, President of the Brooklyn chapter of National Action Network, said he and organization leaders have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday to address the issues related to the allegations.

“We’re meeting with Barneys' CEO and we have not engaged Macy’s yet,” said Foy, in an interview with “But there have been several allegations related to shoppers at Macy’s. So, we feel we have to do something to address that, too.”

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 (Photo: Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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